A no-party system is better than a one-party system

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following editorial was published on Townbroadcast four years ago. Because of what I’ve been seeing since then, I find it appropriate and necessary to repeat it for the edification of readers.

“In a one-party system, you have one party. In a two-party system, you have two parties. In multi-party system you have… more than two parties.” —Dr. Sunjook Junn, Grand Valley State College political science professor   

The Dorr Township Board had an excellent chance (in 2019) to make an important statement against the troubling “us vs. them” approach that has been poisoning our political system lately in America. Members could have stood up to be counted in a fresh new way to do politics at the local level.

But it was not to be.

The board was asked by the Michigan Townships Association to weigh in on a proposal to make all township offices non-partisan rather than today’s customary Republican or Democratic Party affiliation for the seats of supervisor, clerk, treasurer and trustees. They could have expressed support for an idea to stop this awful and nasty battle between two sides — Republican vs. Democrat, just like red vs. blue, Coke vs. Pepsi, Bud Lite vs. Miller Lite, Michigan vs. Michigan State, beginning to be handled more like the Hatfields and McCoys.

It shouldn’t be a secret to anyone that our democratic system, or republic if you prefer, has deteriorated so badly because of an inability of its two major players to work together for the common good. Many will blame one party or the other, but we all must be getting painfully aware that this gridlock has been halting most progress for the past four decades.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gleefully said publicly his most satisfying accomplishment was thwarting any of former President Barack Obama’s goals or policies, even to the point of denying him a Supreme Court justice appointment.

Now there are many in the GOP who assert that the Democratic majority in the U.S. House will do anything to stop President Donald Trump, as the shoe goes on the other foot.

This bickering and mutual hatred has done nothing to advance the peoples’ interests of the United States of America. It has resulted in arguably what has become custom in valuing party over country.

Now comes the MTA with a modest proposal to toss out the reds and blues at the local level and let them run for office just as they are. In my world, non-partisan politics should rule in city, village and county government and only begin at the state level. In short, I favor a no-party system for local offices.

Practicing party politics too often denies qualified people from holding office to serve the people.

One huge example played out before my eyes about 25 years ago in the Village of Nashville. When a seat on the Village Council became available, somehow local attorney Carol Jones Dwyer was appointed to fill the vacancy, though she was a Democrat among a sea of Republicans.

Dwyer’s performance on the council was so appreciated over two years (she provided a lot of free legal advice to colleagues) that the six members of the Village Council begged her to run for her seat as a Republican. She declined, explaining that she had been a lifelong Democrat.

Council members canvassed the village and asked voters to cross party lines to vote for her because she was doing such a good job. But in the end, she lost in the election by three votes. Because she was a Democrat.

So my disappointment with the Dorr Township Board is that members without discussion or hesitation voted 6-0 to reject the MTA proposal and just keep things the way they are.

The Township Board’s position is being echoed around the state, it is not isolated. It’s party over country, state, city or township. A one-party system like that in West Michigan discourages potentially good people from serving locally.

It appears our political system is a lot like the weather — Everybody complains about it, but nobody does anything about it.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But what if it is broke?

As I asserted long ago, ”If J. Christ ran as a Democrat in Allegan County and A. Hitler ran as a Republican, A. Hitler would win.”


  • Why stop a local politics? Why not do away with all party politics? Let each candidate for office run on his own ideas, instead of that of a political party. Perhaps we would then end up with true representation, rather than having to choose who the “Party” sees fit to hold any particular office.

    Seriously, too often, we are left to choose the least undesireable of what the party has rewarded to a loyal party member or money gatherer for the Party. That not necessarily being the best choice for doing the business of the people, but rather better for doing the business of the Party.

  • There’s an excellent business opportunity for an enterprising individual based on the final comment by The Editor. A race between J. Christ (D) and A. Hitler (R) would create such a conundrum for conservatives – especially those with a religious bent – that the toxic waste generated when their heads explode that somebody could make big dollars cleaning up the massive mess in Allegan County!

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